April 19, 2018August 5, 2018

Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life

Since 1977, Julian Schnabel (b. 1951) has captured people’s imagination with paintings that speak to his incessant appetite for sculptural physicality, material diversity, and pictorial symbolism, resulting in ever more audaciously scaled paintings that oscillate between abstraction and figuration. This exhibition features a new body of work created for the Legion’s Court of Honor. At twenty-four by twenty-four feet, the paintings are both monumental in scale and ephemeral in nature. Exposed to the elements over the four-month run of the exhibition, they aren’t meant to last. The artist has said they “epitomize much of what are the essential characteristics of the smallest and most nascent proposals of how imagery drawing and material could be called a painting.” In addition, Schnabel is also showing eleven paintings from three distinct bodies of work, including a new series of abstractions on Mexican sack linen as well as examples from the Goat Paintings (begun in 2012) and the Jane Birkin series (1990).

Image: "Julian Schnabel" installation in the Court of Honor. © Julian Schnabel Studio

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Artist Bio

Julian Schnabel in his studio in Montauk, New York, 2017. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging, © Julian Schnabel Studio

Julian Schnabel (b. 1951) studied art at the University of Houston, achieving a BFA, and participated in the independent study program at the Whitney Museum of Art. He has exhibited widely since the late 1970s. His work has been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville; White Cube, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Tate Gallery, London; Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

Since 1977, Julian Schnabel has captured people’s imagination with paintings that speak to his incessant appetite for sculptural physicality, material diversity, and pictorial symbolism, resulting in ever more audaciously scaled paintings that oscillate between abstraction and figuration. His early and meteoric rise in the international art world attracted equal amounts of criticism and praise, typical of those who find success early. Schnabel has built his mythic, often controversial career on using a vast alchemy of sources and materials, surfaces and supports in defiance of notions of moderation, rationality, and order.

Schnabel’s output has been as mercurial as it has been prolific. From his paintings incorporating broken plates to his experiments with encaustics and works on velvet, his practice continuously evolves as Schnabel explores the limits of his capability and creativity. Schnabel has employed myriad found materials, including diverse textiles such as Kabuki theater backdrops, tarpaulins, and velvet; a plethora of images, names, and fragments of language; and thickly applied paint, viscous resin, and digital reproduction.

Recent solo exhibitions include Julian Schnabel, Schloss Derneberg Museum, Germany (2017); Julian Schnabel: Plate Paintings 1978–86, Aspen Museum of Art (2016–2017); Julian Schnabel: Every Angel Has a Dark Side, Dairy Art Centre, London (2014); and Julian Schnabel: Deus ex machina, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin (2012).

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